Holding Still for God

It was a God-given moment. Several years ago on a winter morning, I decided to brave the cold and take care of an outdoor chore so Don wouldn’t have to do it at the end of a long workday. As I stepped out on our back porch, a surprise awaited me.

A beautiful mockingbird perched on our nearby evergreen. I expected him to whoosh away as soon as he caught sight of me or heard the cat-like squall of the screen door. But he stayed, holding still, allowing me to marvel in his beauty from just a few feet away.

As he continued to linger, I thought wow, I wish I had my camera. Would he stay long enough for me to dash back in the house and get it? Would he be there when I returned? Would he hold still just awhile longer?

I took a chance and slid back inside, as carefully as my noisy door would allow. After grabbing my camera, I turned it on while still inside so there would be one less noise to startle my little outdoor visitor away.

In spite of another screech from the door, the bird remained perched in the same spot. I raised my camera, zoomed in, and took several shots while he continued to hold still. He looked this way and that, almost as if allowing me to work a little more magic with my camera. He eventually flitted away but not before I was thoroughly blessed by this unexpected God-given treat for the soul.

For a few brief moments, I was an artist capturing a subject—a subject who was willing to hold still and let me do my work. I can’t help but wonder if I do the same for God.

When God wants to work on me or just spend time with me and rejoice over his creation (yes, he wants to rejoice over me!), am I a willing subject? Do I hold still for him and cooperate with his plans? Do I allow him to work his magic?

May the Lover of our souls always find us willing to hold still for him!

“The Lord your God is with you . . . He will take great delight in you; in his love he . . . will rejoice over you with singing.“ Zephaniah 3:17 NIV

*When did you last notice God working on you or rejoicing over you with singing?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early November. Sign-up is FREE and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.) *Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*My photo

Wait—The Blessing Is On the Way

Are any of you still waiting for a blessing you hoped would come last month, last year, or even earlier? Are you waiting for an answer to prayer you felt certain would have unfolded by now? If so, don’t feel alone. I’m waiting, too.

It’s hard when God’s answers to our desires and dreams are “no” or “wait”. As we wait for the blessing to come, questions can niggle at our minds. Does God hear my prayers? Why doesn’t he answer? Doesn’t he care about me? Is he punishing me for something? We may even feel like he’s forgotten us.

I won’t presume to explain why God’s answers are what they are in your life or mine, but we’re all acquainted with the character growth that can take place as we learn to wait on him and trust him in every circumstance. However, knowing growth will come doesn’t necessarily make the wait any easier, does it?

Maybe an example from scripture about a delayed answer could provide some encouragement or fresh insight as to why we may have to wait at times.

In the tenth chapter of Daniel, we read that God had given Daniel a revelation, but Daniel didn’t understand it. He prayed and mourned for three weeks, asking God to give him understanding of the vision. At the end of the three weeks, Daniel had another vision of a man, a messenger from God (an angel or possibly even Jesus), who came to give him God’s answer.

The man told Daniel, “Since the first day . . . your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.” (10:12 NIV) He went on to tell him that a demon had resisted him for twenty-one days. One of the chief angels came to help him, though, and the man was now there to give Daniel the understanding he sought from God.

From this passage we see that sometimes delays to our prayers happen because of struggles and battles going on in the spiritual realm. This may not be the reason for your current season of waiting on God, but it could be a possibility.

Whatever the reason you find yourself in God’s waiting room, take heart. He hasn’t forgotten you. He hears you. And the answer—the blessing—is on the way.

“‘When you first started praying, an answer was given . . .’” Daniel 9:23 NCV

*What blessings have you seen in your life after waiting on God?

*The current issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out earlier this month. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is FREE and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.) *Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by mmartinsson, Creative Commons License

Portal of Hope: Beauty and Blessing Await

It’s not too uncommon to see rays of light shining from behind a dark cloud on overcast days, reminding us that indeed the sun is still there and will eventually break through. Such a sight offers us the extra encouragement we need to hang on until the dreary weather—or current unhappy life circumstance—passes. Those rays of light impart hope, don’t they?

The more unusual sight happens when hope pierces the clouds and forms a window, a portal to the blue skies beyond. We see not just a whisper of light but instead a crystal clear view of the beauty awaiting us. We see the azure glory behind the clouds.

And even though the window view may be small, it’s still an invitation to come and see, to look through the portal and take hope in what lies ahead—to put our trust in God and wait for his perfect timing in giving the promised blessing.

So when the skies of our lives hang low with dark clouds or when overcast days color our existence, let’s remember to look for the portal of hope. All it takes is a small window view to revive our hope for a better tomorrow. For as blue skies eventually break through the clouds, so also blessing comes to those who put their hope in the Lord.

“. . . I am the LORD; those who hope in me will not be disappointed.” Isaiah 49:23 NIV

*For what situation do you need to look for the portal of hope and trust God?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out Feb. 4th. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*My photo

Winter and Life Extremes: A Time to Hunker Down

Do you get any of winter’s deep freeze days where you live? You know, those days that start in the single digits or below and if you’re lucky climb well into the teens? We shiver our way through days like that each winter here in southeast Kansas. And I am not a fan.

In fact, I’m not a fan of winter in general, but I must admit, like everything else, winter has its perks. One of those perks for writers like me unfolds as nature speaks something new to us, something we can share through the written word. And sometimes those words come out as poetry.

So here’s my latest poem, friends—inspired and served up by Old Man Winter himself. I hope it blesses you. Even if you shiver a bit while reading it!

A Time to Hunker Down

We all notice the day
when winter blows in,
when autumn’s refreshing nip
takes a frigid turn.
Jackets and sweaters give way
to gloves and down,
and we all settle in
for Old Man Winter’s stay.

And then one night
the cold becomes colder
and we’re plunged into
deep freeze days,
days when nature itself hunkers down,
when nothing moves or makes a peep,
when frozen silence is all we hear.
Yes, nature holds its breath,
shuts down and waits it out.
The bitter extreme calls for a break.

As ever, we can learn from nature.
Let’s take our cues, follow its lead
when bitter extremes hit our lives.
We too might benefit
by stepping back and taking a breath,
by getting quiet and waiting on God.
We too may need to hunker down,
we too may need to take a break.
And one day the sun will come out,
one day sweet life will go on.

“. . . ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’” Mark 6:31

*When have you had to hunker down?

The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early February. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive $15 gift card to Starbucks and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

*My photo

Never Give Up in Prayer

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“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

Have you ever felt like giving up in your prayers for a certain person or about a particular issue? Maybe his or her heart seems too hard to ever desire a change or maybe that issue seems impossible and beyond all reasonable hope. You may feel like your prayers aren’t making a difference at all.

We’ve probably all experienced discouraging thoughts like these at some point or other. When we grow discouraged, when we grow weary in our prayers, let’s remember that “…nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:47)

The next time we lose heart, let’s be honest with the Lord and ask him to refresh us. Let’s share our burdens with one another and encourage each other. Let’s determine to keep looking for the harvest. Let’s determine to never give up.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV

*Is there something or someone I can join you in prayer for today? Please feel free to share in the comments.

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter which includes a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out last week. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*I hope this slightly revised encore post from January 2011 was a blessing to you today!

*Flickr photo by ^@^ina (Irina Patrascu Gheorghita ), Creative Commons License